Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The super sexy HR carnival (#35)

Welcome to the 35th edition of the HR carnival which I’m delighted to host at my Strategic HCM blog.

This carnival has three particular areas of focus. Firstly, it includes quite a few posts from few new or less regular contributors to the carnival, so those of you who are regular readers will I am sure be delighted by some additional perspectives into the world of HR. Secondly, it’s a bit more UK-centric than normal (although we’ve also got posts which concentrate on India, China and the US) which obviously means that the carnival is of a particularly high quality this time!!! And thirdly, I’ve devoted this edition of the carnival to the need to increase the ‘sexiness’ of HR. The last two of these points are the reason I’ve headed this carnival with a photo of sexy police officers and a reveller from the UK’s Notting Hill Carnival!

The need for HR to become more sexy is explained by Jessica Lee at Fistful of Talent. Jessica lists a number of areas in which development could make us sexier, for example by making more investment in social media. And helping up us gain a better understanding of this area are Larry Dunivan at Perceptive HR Technology, commenting on an earlier post by Jason Corsello, and Janet Walsh at Strategic Thinking.

Still confused by what sexy HR means? Well, some good examples of definitely not sexy HR are provided by HR Wench and Laurie Ruettimann at Team Building is for Suckers and some suggestions for being sexy in the downturn are offered by Frank Roche at KnowHR.

Jessica points out that sexy isn’t the same as strategic, but I think there are opportunities for combining the two - if you define sexy as being something which others will find attractive then my blog is specially focused on developing sexy strategy, or perhaps strategic sexiness. And becoming more sexy by being more strategic shouldn’t be too difficult if you keep in mind the findings from Alice Snell at Taleo's Talent Management Solutions blog that less than a third of businesses (in the UK at least) currently have a talent management strategy in place.

While developing your strategy, it’s important, as John Philpott on his CIPD blog notes, not just to redefine existing recruitment and development processes as talent management and - see the post from Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership - also not to assume that what worked ten years ago will still work today. For example, Stacy Chapman at Strategic Workforce Planning suggests that you might need to segment your talent, although Rick at FlipChart Fairy Tales cautions that you should be careful in looking for evidence when segmenting based upon generalizations like generational differences eg around Gen Y.

Of course, sexy strategy isn’t going to be enough on its own – this will need to be supported by sexy HR processes and practices too. A good example of sexy HR practices in operation comes from the incredibly sexy Zappos. Their policy of paying people $1000 to quit is explained by Mark Bennett at Talented Apps although Kris Dunn at the HR Capitalist suggests that maybe they should pay a bit more. And my own nomination for the organisation with the sexiest HR practices is Toyota.

So how can you make your own organisation's HR practices more sexy? How about putting more effort into workplace design – suggested by Carol Morrison at i4cp or alternative work schedules - suggested by Mark Stelzner? Or becoming more green - Susanna Cesar Morton at Advorto suggests how we can appeal to the green side of graduates.

Don’t think reward can be sexy? Have a look at posts from Ann Bares at Compensation Force on sales compensation; Michael Moore at Pennsylvania Labour and Employment blog on overtime payments to non-exempt employees in the US and Julien Dionne at Incentive, Compensation and Sales Performance Management on purchasing an incentive compensation management system.

Of course, whilst there are undoubtedly generic attributes of sexiness, what makes people and organisations click often differs from person to person and organisation to organisation. So, as Art Petty on Management explains, you need to listen to your people and more generally, according to John Agno's Coaching Tip, to communicate with them effectively. To do this, Nina Simosko encourages leaders to reflect on the concerns of their employees.

David Zinger at Employee Engagement Zingers and Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership both offer more advice on developing sexy leaders and Michael Haberman at HR Observations suggests that HR should follow one of Dan McCarthy’s suggestions and get experience on the board of a community group.

By the way, even when you’ve listened to your people, you shouldn’t automatically offer something just because they say they like it – as Paul Herbert of Incentive Intelligence (actually posting on Fistful of Talent) explains, you need to understand your own objectives too.

And don’t take this approach too far - Chris Young at Maximize Possibility offers four signs that you may be guilty of loving your employee too much. And as Susan Heathfield at About.com points out, love contracts don’t solve the problem. And I’d certainly agree with Peggy Andrews at the Career Encouragement blog that sharing hotel rooms isn’t going to be a good idea. After all, as Nick Jefferson notes, you dont want to get sacked.

Bill Strahan at Human Markets notes the particular attractive qualities of transparency which are lost when using corporate gobbledegook. Commenting on a Steve Roesler post, Gautam Ghosh Management Consultant describes how this provides problems for change management, and Scott McArthur at McArthur's Rant and David Zinger at Slacker Manager both provide some more good examples for use in buzzword bingo.

One expression that definitely deserves to be binned is ‘just relax’. Providing his own contribution to the carnival, Steve Roesler at All Things Workplace shows how suggesting that people should relax can actually increase stress. So just sit down with Frank Mulligan at Talent in China for a nice cup of tea instead, or join Amit Avasthi at HR Bytes for a slow game of cricket. And if you're still feeling stressed, take comfort with the observation from Prasad Kurian at Simplicity at the other end of Complexity that we are not our job – HR may not be sexy, but this doesn’t stop us being sexy ourselves.

One final thought, perhaps we can help each other be more sexy? William Tincup recommends joining an underground HR forum, The HR Net, and of course, keeping up with the HR carnival should help as well. I hope you have enjoyed this edition of the carnival and have got some good tips for making HR more sexy. The carnival will be back home next time, with Evil HR Lady on 25th June.